La Boite Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre
September 12 – 15
“If you don’t like what you see tonight, stay off social media”, the celebrity queen of corporate drag, Karen from Finance tells the audience of “Yummy”. Luckily, there is little to dislike about the delicious burlesque, circus, comedy and contemporary dance show. The drag cabaret celebration of feminism and femininity comes to Brisbane Festival from an acclaimed season at last month’s Edinburgh Fringe and, from the moment it begins with a burlesque number from Zelia Rose, it is clear that those in the show and audience alike are going to be having a blast in experience of the outrageous production.
Although there are some darker later numbers, predominantly acts are full of fun, especially in their salaciousness. Like when going to see a retro concert artist, even number becomes your next favourite. There’s Jandruze’s (Australian dancer James Andrew) stint as a risqué sandwich filling and then human slinky and hula-hoop queen, Hannie Helden’s astounding multi-hoop routine, emerging from a perky ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ theme/ ‘Genie in a Bottle’ mashup. (The combinations of pop hits are ingenious).
Spectacular stagecraft is on show across the board. Benjamin Hancock’s avant-guard numbers are intriguing, including one in which he dances solo, with a screen over his mouth lip-syncing to Paloma Faith’s twisted love song, “Only Love Can Hurt Like This. Every performer is always animated, despite the show’s integral physicality.
Indeed, many of the more customary numbers have a Ru Paul Lip Sync for Your Life feel (with even a death drop) in terms of infectious energy as the performers ‘work it’ in the highest of heels. And tthen here are the unconventional ones, like when sweet little psycho Valerie Hex (Director James Welsby), takes us from princess tap dancer to evil hard rock thrasher, over the course of one number.
Comedy comes mostly from the show’s iconic cartoonish emcee, Karen from Finance, complete with big hair and over-the-top office attire. ne of funniest scenes sees the bad bitch with a heart of gold gloriously syncing to recorded audio about audience member Rachel’s debt from now months ago, despite a meantime pokies win, in lead-in to a musical mashup of ABBA and Rihanna’s ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’.
Exaggerated props are intricately absurd, which only adds the dynamic aesthetic and the show’s contemporary choreography is uniquely stylised, meaning that there are a variety of personalities showcased in individual numbers. Full ensemble sections are, similarly, an extravaganza eleganza visual feast of entertainment.
The contagious vitality of “Yummy” never waivers throughout the pacey visual and physical production, thanks also to its snappy soundtrack. Certainly, its gender fluid celebration is fun and full of surprises. To paraphrase creator James Welsby, they’re here, they’re queer, and they’re sure to make you cheer, so get yourself along to Theatre Republic before they sashay away.